Ohio Committee Greenlights Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Plan

Ohio is advancing with its strategy to introduce adult-use cannabis sales statewide.

In November 2023, Ohio voters passed Issue 2, making Ohio the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis. The new law allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household if two adults reside there. Additionally, a 10% tax on all cannabis purchases was introduced, effective from December 7, 2023.

Representative Jamie Callender emphasized the need for a thoughtful implementation process, stating the delay was necessary to address immediate concerns adequately.

Although adult-use cannabis is legal in Ohio, there has been no legal venue for purchase until now. On May 13, the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approved new regulations permitting medical cannabis dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis products.

Jim Canepa, superintendent of the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control (DCC), announced that applications for licenses would be available by June 7. Canepa stressed adherence to the timeline set by the initiated statute and highlighted the limited but dedicated staff managing the process.

Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Ohio Cannabis Coalition (OCC), praised the DCC’s efforts, noting the anticipation among members for the rollout of adult-use sales and the ongoing preparations to meet procedural requirements.

Canepa mentioned that allowing medical dispensaries to sell recreational products is part of a broader regulatory framework that needs to be established by September 7, 2024. Callender expressed satisfaction with the controlled pace of the implementation.

Governor Mike DeWine urged legislators to amend the law immediately after Issue 2 was approved, advocating for balanced protection of all citizens’ rights. The Senate proposed amendments such as banning home cultivation, reducing possession limits, and increasing taxes to 15%. However, these changes were not enacted as the House adjourned before a vote could occur, with House members arguing that the Senate’s amendments contradicted the voters’ decision.

As the legislative bodies reached a consensus, Callender acknowledged the need to address further issues, including child safety packaging, cannabis marketing restrictions, and business owner protections. He noted a growing acceptance of the program’s feasibility among senators and the governor’s office.

Ohio-based cannabis businesses are enthusiastic about the program’s progress. Phoebe DePree, an edibles maker, highlighted the added convenience for consumers and the potential business opportunities.

Brian Vicente of Vicente LLP commended Ohio’s approach, noting that the regulations borrowed best practices from other states, leading to sophisticated and practical rules. Vicente emphasized that these regulations would facilitate a smooth rollout and ongoing operations, providing widespread access to cannabis through stores and drive-up windows.

The DCC must still submit the new rule to JCARR, the Legislative Service Commission, and the Secretary of State’s office by May 22, as reported by the Associated Press.


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